December 27, 2010
The descendents of the Eagan-Fitzgerald Cabal played their annual family tournament at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in late 2010. The family took the unusual step bringing in their own security personnel on top of the extra security provided directly by the hotel. They rented several suites as well as a conference room during their reported 3-night stay. The family is said to be disappointed that some names, photos, and details of the tournament were leaked to local media. There were also noise complaints from non-related guests and "extensive damage" caused to one of the rooms.
September 6, 2010
Crokinole and humidity
Humidity can wreak havoc on a crokinole board and its disks. Former World Crokinole Champion (WCC) Brian Cook has privately blamed his second place finish in 2010 to Justin Slater on the WCC board’s inability to handle the humidity in Tavistock. Others have suggested it had nothing to do with the boards, but on Slater’s secret training with descendants of the Eagan-Fitzgerald Cabal as being the difference. Regardless of the reason, I have written a piece on humidity’s impact on the game of crokinole.
A wood's weight and moisture content
Let’s get technical. Wood is hygroscopic--meaning, when exposed to air, a crokinole board will lose or gain moisture until it is in equilibrium with the humidity and temperature of the air. Moisture content (MC) from 5 to 25 percent may be determined using various moisture meters developed for this purpose. The most accurate method in all cases, and for any moisture content, is to follow the laboratory procedure of weighing the piece with moisture, removing the moisture by fully drying it in an oven (105 degrees C) and reweighing. The equation for determining moisture content is MC% = weight of wood with water - oven-dry weight / divided by oven-dry weight X 100.
Equilibrium moisture content
The moisture content of a crokinole board below the fibre saturation point is a function of both relative humidity and temperature in the surrounding air. When a board is neither gaining nor losing moisture, an equilibrium moisture content (EMC) has been reached. Wood technologists have graphs that precisely tie EMC and relative humidity together, but as a rule of thumb, a relative humidity of 25 percent gives an EMC of 5 percent, and a relative humidity of 75 percent gives an EMC of 14 percent. A 50 percent swing in relative humidity produces an EMC change of 10 percent. How that affects the crokinole board depends on which wood species is being used. However, let's say the width variation is just 1/32 inch for a 26-inch playing surface board. That amounts to significant expansion or contraction and can severely impact a game. Protective coatings cannot prevent wood from gaining or losing moisture; they merely slow the process.
All crokinole boards and disks are designed to withstand a certain amount of moisture. In most cases, good craftsmanship will allow the material to expand. Mass produced and composite boards and chips go through the same changes as their custom-made sisters, but high quality boards often include special channels that allow the material to grow. These measures are designed to prevent problems caused by too much moisture, but the appearance and integrity of the boards can still be affected by high humidity.
Crowning is the bowing of a crokinole board into a convex shape. The center of the board appears to be higher than the edges and makes the deck uneven and unattractive. There are a number of causes for crowning, but it is often the result of botched attempts during the design phase. Standing liquids, such as water, but especially alcoholic beverages allowed to sit on the board for long periods triggers the most drastic crowning.
This problem can occur spontaneously in larger crokinole boards. Naturally occurring crowning is much less severe than the kind caused by human error and can only be seen upon close inspection. This kind of crowning is often the result of a humid environment, but should go away once the board is allowed to dry out. In the meantime, boards with bevelled edges will hide some of the distortion.
Cupping is a condition in which crokinole boards become concave. The deck begins to resemble a shallow cup as the sides rise above the center. There are a number of reasons severe cupping can occur, but moisture is always to blame for the change in the wood. Carbonated drink spills that were allowed to soak into the wood are sometimes the problem, but sudden high humidity is often the culprit. This condition is the result of the bottom of the board containing more moisture than the top. Open pores in the deck and improper drying are usually the cause of these variations in dampness.
The treated surface of the wood resists expanding, but the seams and underside of the board swell. As the board grows, it will begin to push up on the surface. This pressure can exacerbate the cupping by forcing the edges to rise even more and cracks the wood.
Buckling is a serious issue in the crokinole disks which the edges of the chips detaches from the core. This problem should never be caused by normal changes in humidity. If a disk does react in this way to more moisture in the air, it was probably manufactured incorrectly. Buckling is seen most often in chips that have been soaked in alcohol, particularly Scottish ales.
Controlling Moisture and Fixing Boards
Most crokinole players will have no problem with their boards. Most modern boards have been treated and designed to withstand even the most drastic atmospheric changes. If these products are installed properly, the boards should have enough room to grow without any problems. However, owners of crokinole boards should keep their home well ventilated in the summer so that moistures can flow freely. Homes in particularly balmy climates may need the help of a dehumidifier. Cracks happen most in the winter, and although they are often only temporary, it may be wise to introduce some moisture into the air inside via a humidifier. This can help the family avoid colds and soar throats, too.
Never leave standing water or other liquid on a crokinole board. After a spill, sop up the liquid as quickly as possible. If necessary, use fans to thoroughly dry the board. Of course, it is never a good idea to mop boards or clean them with water-based products.
If a board has been damaged, look for leaks and other more significant sources of moisture. Humidity does not often cause permanent cosmetic defects, so check for other common problems first. A damaged board may need sanding, refinishing, or other repairs. Since the board must be dried before any work can be done, try letting it air out for a while before calling a handyman. Many humidity problems are only temporary, so watch the area for a few days. If the wood does need work, make sure to allow the moisture to escape before refinishing it. Trapping extra water inside is likely to cause crowning.
August 20, 2010
crokinole history being muted!
Per wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crokinole
Accomplished fiddler and stepdancer, Julie Fitzgerald, was allegedly the first family member to confirm the infamous “Eagan-Fitzgerald Cabal“, a term coined by famous crokinole player and blogger Eric Miltenburg of Toronto. (http://crokinoledepot.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=32&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a) In the World Crokinole Championship’s very backyard in Tavistock, in early July 2010, Fitzgerald explained in great detail to Bill Gladding of the Tavistock Gazette the importance of her family’s contribution to crokinole’s rich history. Fitzgerald stated that many of Thomas Eagan’s descendents still play dominant crokinole, but are now scattered across the continent, with some in the Greater Toronto Area, the Ottawa Valley, remote areas of Northern Ontario, British Columbia, and San Francisco. The family do not participate in the World Crokinole Championships, because they consider the level of competition inferior to their own and concentrate on developing their family’s skills. Fitzgerald boasted about the family’s political connections and stated they are developing crokinole software with an unnamed technology company in Sunnyvale, California. (http://tavistockgazette.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/world-crokinole-2010/3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca)
Unfortunately, the story was never published in the Tavistock Gazette. Bill Gladding and Julie Fitzgerald have since denied any conversation taking place. However, Julie’s sister Kerry and brother Tom have confirmed they were in Tavistock with Julie and that she spoke to Gladding on two separate occasions on July 2 and 3, 2010. (source: http://www.bancroftthisweek.com/ )